Got Conflict? Take an ASPIRIN and Call me in the Morning.


  • Author Steve Davis
  • Published March 22, 2010
  • Word count 351

I've seen a lot of great conflict resolution models and theories over the years. Many of them take a bit of cognitive capacity to remember in the heat of conflict. When conflict shows up in a group, the higher mental faculties (of those in conflict and my own) aren't often operating at their peak. During times like these, if we use a model at all, it needs to be very simple and memorable.

Go back to the last time you were in the midst of a conflict. What did it feel like in your body? For me, my head heats up and thoughts are coming fast. It almost feels like I need an aspirin.

I offer the following model that we can hopefully remember and actually use when things heat up. Tell me what you think.

When people get bothered and tension rises, it may be time for an ASPIRIN...

A: Ally. Befriend the conflicted. Let them know that you are there for them, looking out for their needs and interests.

S: Specifics. Ask for the specific, observable, facts that concern them.

P: Protection. Balance protecting the group with protecting the conflicted. Maintain an environment that is safe for everyone. You may have to be a traffic cop here, enforcing basic operating agreements, and putting a stop to disrespectful behavior. A break might even be required to let everyone cool down for a few minutes.

I: Interests. Inquire into the conflicting parties concerns. Find out how what they want and why they want it.

R: Review. Rephrase what you've heard so far and help the group decide if they would benefit by processing this issue now or deciding on another time and place.

I: Improvise. Use the above guidelines to generate and synthesize options for a course of action that feels right for all concerned. Trust your instincts and intuition.

N: Norms. Is the source of the problem you just encountered covered in your operating agreements or ground rules? If not, check in with group to see if they should be modified to prevent similar issues from arising in the future.

Steve Davis, M.A., M.S., is a Leader’s Coach, Infoprenuer, and free-lance human, helping facilitators, leaders, educators, trainers, coaches and consultants present themselves confidently, access their creativity, empower their under-performing teams, and build their business online and offline. Receive free ecourse on Facilitative Leadership and weekly ezine for facilitators and group leaders at

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